by Miguel E. Rodriguez

Director: Chad Stahelski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Anjelica Huston
My Rating: 9/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 89% Certified Fresh

PLOT: Picking up precisely where John Wick 2 left off, legendary assassin John Wick (Reeves) must fend off wave after wave of bounty hunters intent on collecting the $14 million bounty on his head.

You gotta love how John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum starts.  About 30 seconds of opening credits, and then bang, the action picks up exactly where John Wick: Chapter 2 ended.  Wick is on the run through New York City, trying to find safe haven for himself (and his dog, aptly named “Dog”) before he becomes “excommunicado”.  At that point, a global network of assassins will make him their target and kill him.

Well…they’ll TRY to kill him.

Let’s be blunt: you’re either a fan of the John Wick franchise, or you’re not.  These films are not for the casual moviegoer.  There’s just enough story to hang the fight scenes on, no more.  Everything we need to know about the John Wick character, we’ve gleaned from the first two films, and even that is minimal.  There’s no subtext, no neo-modern, meta-textual considerations to be discussed in terms of the screenplay.  The movie has but one purpose: to show off spectacularly choreographed fight scenes in which the good guy obliterates a crapload of bad guys.

I think I read somewhere there are eleven separate fight scenes in the film.  As such, the filmmakers were careful to make the fight scenes as distinctive as possible, especially when it comes to the weapons that are used.  Among these weapons are (let me see if I can remember them all): fists, knives, swords, axes, pistols, shotguns, machine guns, several thick books, a chisel, a couple of pissed-off attack dogs, and a belt.

Watching this movie was exhilarating for me.  The action scenes tapped into that teenaged part of me that used to love watching Enter the Dragon or The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  I mean, I still love those movies, but for some reason, during Parabellum, I was positively giddy.  There was a sense that the filmmakers were attempting to provide us with the ULTIMATE action movie, the zenith, the ne plus ultra.  And I’ve gotta say, the last time an action movie gave me those kinds of vibes was The Matrix Reloaded during the freeway car chase.

There’s not much more to say about the movie.  Like I said, it has one purpose, and it does it extremely well.  If you love great fight scenes, congratulations, Christmas came early.